How Much Does it Cost to Paint or Stain a Wood Fence?

Common Range: $1,250 – $3,500

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Updated: March 1, 2022, by: Steve Hansen

Average Cost of Staining a Fence

The average cost to hire a professional to stain a wood fence is $2,400 for a 250-foot fence. The average is $9.60 per linear foot and $1.95 per square foot.

This price includes the paint contractor clearing foliage away from the fence, power washing it, making minimal repairs and applying one coat of a quality stain and sealer combination to all sides of the fence. DIY homeowners will save money on labor, but they will have expenses for tools and supplies needed for the project.

Average Do It Yourself cost
$3.20 – $7.50 per Linear Foot
Average Contractor Installed Cost
$9.60 per Linear Foot
Typical Cost Average
$8.25 – $14.00 per Linear Foot
Updated: March 1, 2022

paint or stain a wood fence

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Overview of Wood Fence Staining

Staining a wood fence is on many homeowners’ lists of warm weather outdoor projects. The fence should be stained every 3-6 years as needed is necessary for long-lasting protection and the fence’s continued good looks. If you’re still researching fence options and trying to compare maintenance costs, read our guide to choosing a fence. It’s got quite a bit of good information inside.

When estimating fence staining cost, contractors consider the condition of the wood – will it need repairs? Will some boards need replacing? Is the wood so dry it will require two coats of stain? These and other cost factors are discussed later to allow you to narrow your fence staining cost estimate. Ways to save money include clearing brush away from he fence before the contractor has to and including deck staining as part of a larger project.

This cost estimate for staining a wood fence also covers different types of wood fences and stain options and offers DIY tips and a list of necessary tools for the project. Staining a wood fence is a DIY friendly project and does not require previous experience. We provide more information for DIY fence staining below.

Product and Supplies Cost Details

Fence Staining Cost Factors

How much does it cost to stain a fence? Review the factors below and they will help in estimating your cost compared with the average cost of $9.60 per linear foot.

  • Prep Work Required – Unless your wood fence is brand new, it will probably need to be pressure washed before being stained. If you don’t have a power washer, you can rent one from Home Depot or Lowes for about $45 a day. Make sure to check for any rotting or broken boards and have them repaired or replaced before staining. The area around the fence should also be cleared of any debris or plant overgrowth that could get in the way of staining. If you have anything close to the fence like a concrete walkway or patio, make sure that it is covered by drop cloths, so that stain doesn’t accidentally drip on it.
  • Type of Fence – There are several types of wood fence, and some types are more expensive to stain than others. The most common types of wood fence are picket fences, privacy fences, shadowbox fences, and post and rail fences. The least expensive types of fences to stain are picket and post and rail fences because they have the least surface area to cover. They require less stain and less time, which means less money! Privacy fences and shadowbox fences are the most expensive types to stain because they have the most wood plus hard-to-reach surfaces.
  • Fence Length – One of the biggest factors in the cost to stain a wood fence is the length of the fence. The longer the fence, the more it will cost to stain, of course, but cost per foot might go down a little as the fence gets longer. Pro tip: Make sure to measure the length of fence that you are planning to stain so that you can get an accurate cost estimate!
  • Type of Stain The type of stain that you use to stain your fence will affect the total cost of your project. The three main types of stain are transparent, semi-transparent, and solid. Transparent stain is the least expensive, semi-transparent is mid-level cost, and solid stain is the most expensive. Each type of stain creates a different look, so your choice of stain will depend on what you have in mind for the finished product. The other stain choice to make is between a great quality stain or a lower quality. Good quality stains from Cabot, Behr or other top brands are more expensive, but will stay looking nice for much longer because they protect the wood better. You’ll save money in the long run by using quality stain.
  • One Side vs. Both Sides – Many times, a fence sits on a property line. Whoever installed the fence is responsible for its maintenance. However, when homes on both sides of the fence sell, who owns the structure is sometimes unknown. In these cases, you might only be responsible for staining your side of the fence. However, from a longevity standpoint, it is always best to stain both sides. You might have to work out a deal with your neighbor(s) to divvy up the cost of fence staining.
  • How Many Coats – Generally, staining a wood fence only requires one coat, but often people choose to add a second coat for depth and longevity. As you can imagine, adding a second coat requires twice the stain, so it will cost about twice as much in supplies and labor.
  • DIY or Professional – A major cost factor to consider is who does the labor. If you hire a professional to stain your fence, you can expect to spend anywhere between $20 – $40 per hour per person on labor, or roughly 55% to 60% of the total price to stain a fence.
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Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time

Permits and Inspection Cost

  • $0 | There is no permit required for staining a wood fence, but you may need one to build a new fence.

Related Costs and Installation Time

Most fences take 3-5 days to stain. Here’s a common schedule.

  • Up to 1 Day | Inspect the fence, make minor repairs such as filling gouges, replacing a few damaged boards and securing/replacing loose or missing fasteners and brackets.
  • 1 Day | Power wash the fence, and give it at least 24 hours to thoroughly dry.
  • 1-3 Days | Stain the fence – The size of your fence will determine how long the project takes, but in general it’s safe to budget an hour or so for every 10-20 linear feet of fence depending on how the stain is applied. If you have 250 feet of fence to stain, that’s 25 hours of staining time. If you are doing a second coat, that’s 50 hours of labor. Each coat needs between 12 and 24 hours to dry depending on the humidity, so it’s a good idea to have a week or more to finish the project.

Costs of Related Projects

Below is a list of related projects that you might be interested in.

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DIY or Hire a Pro?

Staining a wood fence is a great DIY project, and there are plenty of easy-to-follow online tutorials. If you have the time and patience, go for it! Make sure to cover any space that shouldn’t get dripped on with drop cloths before you begin.

If you choose to stain the fence yourself, you will save the labor cost – or up to 60%, according to Homewyse. But you’ll have to pay retail price for stain, which Fixr estimates at about $26-$40 per gallon, though premium stains run closer to $50. For estimating purposes, consider about 160 square feet of coverage per gallon, says Home Advisor. However, the condition of the wood is a major factor – old, dry wood will drink up more stain, and your coverage could drop closer to 125 square feet per gallon. Rough-hewn cedar also takes more stain than smooth wood surfaces.

DIY roller or paintbrush application is extremely time-consuming, so you might want to use a sprayer instead. An airless sprayer costs about $100 a day to rent. If you’d rather buy one to have for other future uses, you can buy a homeowner-grade sprayer for about $25 – $80 or a light-duty commercial sprayer for about $200 – $400. In addition to the sprayer and stain, you will probably need to purchase drop cloths and a small roller for hard-to-reach areas.

If your main priority is to get the job done as quickly as possible, then you may want to hire a professional. A contractor will finish the job in a timely manner and will leave your fence looking amazing. There’s no shame in wanting that!

Get on the schedule now! Our data shows contractors are scheduling up to 2 months out – and if winter hits before your fence gets stained, it will be the worse for wear in spring. So, plan ahead, locate a quality paint/stain contractor and get the job scheduled.

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Reviewed and Edited by Steve Hansen of Costimates

steve hansen of costimates-sm Steve Hansen is the Lead Editor of Costimates. (Learn more) An avid home improvement professional with more than 35 years experience in both DIY projects and working as a construction foreman in residential new home building, upfits, repairs and remodeling.

"Like most homeowners, I became frustrated with the lack of quality information available on specific home improvement repairs and renovations. In 2015, Costimates was formed to help homeowners learn as much as possible about various projects and their costs so they could make better financial decisions."